Sepracor Has Stopped Advertising Lunesta, But Sales Still Go Up

Last Updated Sep 15, 2009 12:45 PM EDT

Sepracor appears to have almost stopped advertising for sleeping pill Lunesta, and yet sales are still rising. The company moved its Lunesta ad account from Publicis's The Kaplan Thaler Group to Lowe, an Interpublic shop, Adweek reports, but Sepracor spent less than $1 million on ads for the brand in 2009:
Lunesta's major media spending exceeded $100 million last year, but fell to less than $1 million in the first half of 2009, according to Nielsen. The 2007 ad-spend total was $255 million, per Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.
At one time, Sepracor spent nearly $300 million a year advertising Lunesta -- the largest ad budget on the entire planet.

Several years after its launch, advertising seems to make no difference to the brand. Despite an almost infinite number of generic and OTC competitors, Lunesta sales were up 2 percent to $151 million in Q2 2009.

One reason the brand stays strong is that it kept its place on the Walmart employee health plan formulary when Sanofi-Aventis's Ambien lost its.